Recent Storms Increase Water Levels at California Lakes

Lake Shasta, the state's largest lake, is rising at a rate of three feet per day

The recent rains in Northern California are pushing up lake levels at an impressive pace.

Lake Shasta, the state's largest lake, is rising at a rate of three feet per day. Last year, the lake was 29 percent of capacity. Today it has risen 100 feet above that low point to 67 percent full, and is climbing at a rate of 35,000 to 45,000 cubic feet per second.

"It's certainly good," said Doug Parker, who serves as director for the California Institute for Water Resources. "We're running pretty close to normal."

Parker said normal is fantastic compared to the past five years, but added the hope was water levels would be above normal.

Folsom Lake is currently 10 percent above its normal or average level for this time of year. In addition, Folsom Lake has opened its flood gates for the first time in five years.

In Santa Cruz, Loch Lomand reservoir is 85 percent full. The same can be said of Lafayette reservoir in the East Bay.

In Marin County, San Rafael-resident Gabby Ronick admits sometimes it is hard to toe the line on conservation when her kids want to play with the garden hose.

"The fact that is has been raining is the main thing we think 'We can let it slide this one time. We can let him play with the water.' We shouldn't be thinking that, but we do. It slips out," Ronick said.

Marin's water district has had a goal of cutting water use by 20 percent.

"And we're about 21 percent right now, so we're doing good." said Mike Ban with the Marin Municipal Water.

California gets 40 percent of its water not from reservoirs, but from wells. Parker said it takes a lot longer to fill an aquifer than a reservoir.

"Ground water can take anywhere from a year to five years to recharge," Parker said. "So we need a number of wet years in a row to really deal with this ground water issue, and to bring that part of the state where it needs to be."

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